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Romanian PM Ponta Says Referendum Will Abide by Court Ruling

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said a referendum to decide whether suspended President Traian Basescu keeps his job will respect a Constitutional Court ruling requiring a majority of eligible voters to participate.

Ponta told reporters in Brussels today that he has asked Parliament to change the rules of the referendum to abide by the ruling and assured European Parliament President Martin Schulz that the country will respect all court decisions and the rule of law.

Ponta’s ruling coalition seeks to remove Basescu two months after installing the country’s third Cabinet this year as parliamentary elections in November or December approach. A referendum on Basescu’s impeachment will be held on July 29.

Romania’s nine-judges of the court said yesterday that they set a minimum required voter turnout for the nationwide vote after the opposition challenged a law governing referenda, approved by Parliament June 26 and backed by the ruling Social Liberal Union. The court didn’t comment on whether the ruling negates an emergency decree by the government stipulating the same changes to the referendum, which is in force.

“In my opinion the referendum should respect the court ruling,” Ponta said. “I assured Mr Schulz that any referendum in Romania must be validated by the court, which on July 30, will confirm the referendum results if more than 50 percent of the voters attend.”

Basescu said today from his campaign headquarter that he asks the government to be fair and organize the referendum respecting the law.

“The government doesn’t need to ask the Parliament to change the referendum rules -- it can issue an emergency decree to cancel the existing decree and respect the Constitutional Court ruling as the lawmakers are in holiday,” he said.

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